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The Volkswagen Alltrack is a Highly Capable Driver Not Available in the US

February 25, 2015

Volkswagen is showing off the newest version of their very capable Passat Alltrack station wagon at the Geneva Auto Show this year and it looks like it has been dramatically improved upon since the last release. The new vehicle comes with more capable performance and handling features, and is also built with added comfort in mind. Unfortunately this same vehicle isn’t going to be available in the United States, and VW might not make it available at all.

2016 VW Alltrack

Highly Capable Handling

Volkswagen built the 2016 Passat Alltrack on top of the lightweight and durable MQB platform. It comes with an advanced all-wheel drive system that is built for stability but also for efficiency. The system relies on the front two wheels during standard driving conditions, and then adjusts to provide power through all the wheels when conditions start to become poor. The system helps maintain smooth and effective traction most of the time, and you won’t notice road conditions becoming dicey by the way the vehicle handles because it switches to the more capable all-wheel drive before traction becomes a real issue.

On top of the all-wheel drive, the vehicle also comes with dynamic handling adjustments. They can be tailored to go from economy mode to sport mode depending on the level of power and performance you are looking for. The system even comes with an offroad mode that will help improve traction and handling safety when you want to drive to the local mountain bike trails.

More Enjoyable Towing

The Alltrack is capable of towing more than 4,800 lbs. as long as the owner opts for the towbar addon. Any trips that travel over roads with a grade of 12 percent or less will allow towing up to that level. If you know that you will be travelling at a higher grade than 12 percent you’ll have to decrease the weight that you tow a bit.

On top of the effective towing capacity, the vehicle also comes along with a Tow Assist system. The system is designed to make backing up easier while towing a trailer. Cameras are mounted at the back of the vehicle and they take a look at the angle between the trailer and the back of the vehicle to help the vehicle adjust and compensate for the way that the angle is changing. This allows the wagon to back up easily and effectively no matter where you want to move the trailer. When you use this system you will be able to enjoy backing up your trailer to wherever you want it smoothly and easily, while only having to worry about acceleration and braking.

A Modified Interior

The Alltrack comes with a custom interior that is designed differentiate itself from the standard Passat noticeably. The upgraded seats in the vehicle are 14-point power-adjustable with Alcantara material on the sides and a custom “7 Summits” patterned center. The seats are designed to be highly comfortable and supportive, and come with several different leather options as well as massage and heating and ventilation options. The interior also has “Alltrack” badged sillplates and floor mats.

The Alltrack is a good all-around vehicle that families can trust to get them where they need to go, but if you live in the United States you will have to go with a VW SUV if you want the same level of capability that the Alltrack offers. The Tiguan offers many of the same handling and performance capabilities that the Passat Alltrack does, just on a larger platform.

 

A Look at the Volkswagen Beetle R-Line

February 18, 2015

VW Beetles are known for being cute, and have taken the spotlight in movies like The Love Bug for years for this reason, but one thing they usually aren’t considered as sporty or fast, until the R-Line that is. Volkswagen is releasing a new version of the Beetle known as the R-Line that comes with turbocharged power and enough performance features to excite the most demanding thrill seekers. While it’s not a Buggati Veyron by any stretch, the variation comes with more than enough power to do burnouts or fly around corners at breakneck speeds, and it’s a blast to take down winding roads in the back country.

volkswagen beetle r line

Power and Performance

The Little VW Beetle R-Line is a powerhouse performer of a vehicle that comes equipped with a 2.0 liter TFSI four cylinder engine that puts out a whopping 210 HP and 207 lb.-ft. of torque, monstrous figures for such a compact vehicle. It can travel from 0 to 60 in just 6.7 seconds and has a smooth six-speed manual transmission for changing between gears quickly and effectively.

During fast acceleration there is a quick bit of turbo lag, but once your over that initial hump the car feels very powerful and the engine seems quite substantial for just 2.0 literls of displacement. Where the car truly shines though isn’t in its acceleration but in its handling. The steering wheel on the car is flat bottomed and steering mechanics are very stiff providing a tight feeling of control. You’ll be tempted to corner at high speeds in the Beetle and it will handle thos quick corners deftly time and time again. One of the best things about the Beetle R-Line is just how in-control you’ll feel when behind the wheel.

A Menacing Exterior

It’s hard to imagine any Beetle being intimidating or even looking very sporty but thanks to the duck-tail shaped spoiler and the custom R-Line wheels and badging this Beetle manages a certain edge. It still has the cute Beetle look, but it’s got a certain level of underlying aggression that carries over into the interior styling as well.

A Performance Interior

Inside the Beetle you’ll be overwhelmed by all the black and chrome accents that you’re presented with. VW threw in just enough red accents to help breathe a bit more life into the interior and give it that racing edge that it needs.The custom racing bucket seats are supportive and comfortable. The flat-bottomed steering wheel gives it a sporty feel, and the full-length gas pedal will ensure that you can apply just the right amount of power at the right moment.

The Base Model is a Bit Lacking

The only area that the Beetle R-Line really comes up short is in the stock equipment that comes in it. At the base price of just over $26,000 you won’t be getting heated seats, an infotainment system, a reverse camera, adaptive cruise, power seats or most luxury features that buyers are coming to expect. Instead you’ll be presented with a pretty standard feature set that you will get on most utilitarian models. This is fine for the performance enthusiasts who don’t care about anything buy tearing around corners, but for all the regular commuters and long-distance trip takers who want a bit of luxury, the base model is a bit lacking. This means that you’ll have to spend a bit more on any of the added options that you want to add to the vehicle, and those extras can really drive up the price of this little hot hatch.

Overall the Beetle R-Line is an exciting little performer with plenty of life and a whole lot of character. It’s stylish to look at both inside and out, and it will give thrill seekers plenty to play around with. It can be a bit pricey though, and if you’re hoping for the total package with both luxury and performance you’ll have to prepare to get a higher trim level version of this Beetle to bring home.

VW Plans to Invest Millions in US Electric Car Charging Infrastructure

February 12, 2015

Volkswagen made it clear that they were invested in electric technology when they released their highly-regarded e-Golf and now they are showing once again that they have a high interest in the technology by committing to invest in infrastructure as well. VW is committing millions of dollars to developing the electric car charger infrastructure around the country, in order to make sure that electric vehicles have a place to charge up, but they say that they aren’t willing to go it alone and expect federal and state governments to chip in as well.

Combined Charging system

Adding Power to Dealerships

One of the ways that Volkswagen is supporting the new e-Golf is by planning to install fast-charge stations in many of their dealerships on both the east and west coast. This will give purchasers a location where they can go to charge up, and it will also make it easier for dealerships to offer test drives to prospective buyers and to keep the cars topped up in between. This should help encourage locals to purchase electric cars and might even help encourage dealerships to start stocking more of them as well.

BMW and Volkswagen Team Up

BMW and Volkswagen along with ChargePoint made a commitment to install 100 DC fast-charging stations along the East and West coast. A big part of the millions that the automaker committed to spending on this technology is wrapped up in that deal. The charging system comes with the charging technology to connect to either BMW or VW vehicles

The Need for Government Support

All this information came from Jog Sommer, the VP of Product Marketing and Strategy for Volkswagen of America and while he went into some details about what VW plans to do in the future, for the most part he left he focused more on the need for government help than anything else. He urged the government to continue offering incentives to e-car buyers as well as the automakers who produce the technology. He also wants the government to begin investing in the technology and infrastructure for electric cars so that a major set of charging stations can be set up around the country.

Only time will tell whether or not Sommers gets his wish, but one thing is for certain and that’s that electric vehicles are going to increase in popularity over the coming years, and Volkswagen is going to have an increasingly large investment in the technology as they work along with BMW and other automakers to make the technology a real possibility.

A Look at the Volkswagen Golf GTD

February 2, 2015

It’s been a long time since station wagons have been considered stylish vehicles, but with offerings such as the VW Golf GTD variant it appears that that’s changing completely. This sporty powerhouse is both stylish and luxurious within. It’s a great testament to diesel technology, and offers good performance while being relatively efficient as well.

golf gtd

A Reliable Power Source

The VW Golf GTD utilizes the 2.0 liter turbodiesel engine that’s use in the Golf TDI SportWagen as well. It gives it 181 HP and 280 lb.-ft. of torque. While this power output is more than enough for the GTD, the more robust size of the vehicle drops the 0 to 60 time and it takes around 7.9 seconds in order to get up to speed with the TDI Sportwagen managing in 7.5 seconds. Despite the increased size of the vehicle it remains quite fuel efficient. The larger size drops down the fuel efficiency of the vehicle a bit as well when compared to the Golf TDI but it’s still expected to get over 40 MPG making it quite the efficient vehicle for the level of power it has available.

Utility

For the loss of speed which is relatively minor you get a whole lot of versatility in the GTD. The rear-end of the vehicle is long enough to hold a plethora of cargo with ease. You’ll find yourself using the vehicle to haul furniture and other odds and ends that you never would have thought it could hold, and that’s the value in up-sizing to a station wagon.

A New Look

Aside from the longer form the GTD also get s a set of smoked taillights, and a different bumper and grille than what can be found on the SportWagen. It also has a set of twin-chromed tailpipes helping to cap off the interestingly fitting sporty station wagon look.

Unfortunately this beautiful creation isn’t likely to make its way into the United States. While diesel technology is becoming more popular and the station wagon form-factor is making a comeback, it doesn’t have the same level of popularity here that it does over in Europe, and that’s where it’s being released for the moment. It’s available in Europe now, and we’ll be lucky to see it cross overseas anytime soon or at all for that matter.

If you’ve all but made up your mind that you want a sporty little diesel vehicle the best you can do at the moment is the Golf TDI Clean Diesel. While it isn’t quite as sporty, it’s got plenty of spunk and it relies on the same impressive technology that makes the GTD variant special.

The 2015 Volkswagen Golf GTI is Worth a Test Drive or Three

January 27, 2015

If most people were asked to choose a $25,000 sports car they wouldn’t expect it to come in the form of the 2015 Volkswagen Golf GTI. Although the vehicle looks a bit ordinary on the outside, and hardly screams sporty performance from its appearance, it’s an impressive vehicle once you climb behind the wheel.

2015 vw golf gti

Surprisingly Sporty

The compact GTI comes fitted with a 2.0 liter 4-cylinder engine, which seems pretty standard until you realize that it’s been turbocharged to 210 HP and a surprising 258 lb.-ft. of torque. This thing launches and you’ll feel like you’re behind the wheel of a racecar while driving thanks to how compact this ride is.

The carefully calibrated turbo provides even power and lots of juice for accelerating. The car comes standard with a six speed manual that shifts smoothly and is a lot of fun to operate. For an added $1,100 you can switch to a six-speed dual clutch automatic, if manuals aren’t your thing, but we think it takes away from the fun a bit. The GTI is designed with dynamic driving modes so you can dim down the power a bit during the commute and maximize it out in the country by switching over to Turbo.

Luxuriously Appointed

Volkswagen went all out when they put together the GTI’s interior. The plaid upholstered seats are supportive and very comfortable. The interior is cleanly laid out and everything is simple to use. Exterior noise is blocked out very effectively as well providing a calm and relaxing cabin to ride around in.

Conveniently Practical

Even though the VW GTI is a little hot hatch packed with performance it’s actually pretty practical as well. It’s comfortable to sit in and nobody is going to complain about being cramped in the  52 cubic foot interior. It sits up to five passengers, although four is the ideal number if you’re transporting a bunch of adults. The Golf GTI gets 25 MPG in the city and up to 33 on the highway, which is pretty good for the power that it wields. It comes with ample trunk storage, and makes sense for commuting, family trips and fun trips through the country, making it a highly versatile ride.

Superb Handling

The GTI is reactive and easy to manipulate around the road. Light adjustments on the wheel produce a real reaction in the vehicle. Just a bit over two wheel turns and you can go from sharply turning left to sharply turning right. An effective traction control system provides even footing in poor driving conditions. The GTI is built on the new MQB framework giving it a more lightweight body than before, while also making it a bit lower, longer and wider than before for improved handling. It just feels solid and knows how to take a corner at high speeds with such assurance that it will inspire confidence in most drivers to be a bit bolder.

The 2015 Volkswagen GTI is an unexpected surprise once behind the wheel, and it’s something that a lot of people would enjoy if they gave it a chance.

Volkswagen Shows off their Cross Coupe GTE Concept in Detroit

January 15, 2015

Volkswagen showed off their Cross Coupe GTE concept car at the 2015 Detroit Auto Show and it was quite a spectacle. This powerful SUV is a plug-in hybrid with plenty of performance capability and an effective efficiency level that will allow it to stand out in the industry.

cross coupe gte

The SUV can travel solely on electric power, and it is also capable of running in an efficient hybrid mode. It’s built with a single V6 gasoline engine that provides 276 HP and two different electric motors, one out front and one at the rear. The front motor provides 54 HP and the rear offers an additional 114 HP. All together the vehicle manages 355 HP and can jumpstart from 0 to 60 in just six seconds flat which nobody would argue is a bad time for an SUV.

Dynamic Driving Modes

The concept is very flexible with how it can utilize the built in 14.1 kWh battery and the two electric motors. The driver can choose to use the full power of the vehicle with all-wheel driver performance in its GTE mode. There is also an EV mode that provides 20 miles of travel using just the battery power and electric motors. Another mode will charge up the battery during regular driving conditions to provide EV power later on, and there is a standard drive mode that doesn’t touch the battery charge until you decide that you want to tap into it. With such a great level of flexibility offered to the driver they can choose exactly how the vehicle performs and get exactly what they want out of the SUV.

The Looks

This compact snub-nosed SUV looks meaty and strong without looking bulky. It’s got a wide grille that surrounded by two intakes of the same width, giving it a rectangular accent along the front bottom. Compact LED headlamps are used to provide sleek little slits of light while driving. Deep ridges and grooves are worked into the sheet metal of the hood as well as around the body giving it a defined and tough stance. The concept is a mixture of bright blues and shiny chrome accents making it look fresh and modern while also providing a stylish appeal to the vehicle.

Built on the Modular MQB Platform

Volkswagen is moving most of their vehicles over to the very dynamic MQB platform including this concept SUV which means that a variety of drivetrains and fuel types are possible in the future. The versatile foundation is designed to accommodate natural gas, fuel cell technology, electric cars and standard gasoline engines all equally effectively meaning that Volkswagen has a lot of options with what they could do with their Cross Coupe lineup in the future.

This five-man SUV is sleek and low to the ground enough to be mistaken for a coupe and it shows off an exciting new design concept that is likely to spread to the larger 8-man SUV that Volkswagen has been talking about in the future.

Volkswagen Shows of a Touchscreen Heavy Setup at CES 2015

January 8, 2015

VW unveiled a modified Golf R at CES showing off all of the benefits of touchscreen technology and how they could be integrated into their vehicles in the future. Not only did this modified car have three different touchscreens, all with different jobs, it also had a ceiling-mounted camera that detects gestures and translates them into touch actions.

golf r touch front

The Hardware

This modified vehicle is being dubbed the Golf R Touch, and it comes with a 12.8-inch upper panel for infotainment purposes and an eight inch lower control panel with multi-touch capabilities for more specific and advanced controls. There is also a 12.3-inch instrument panel screen where the gauge clusters would typically be. It shows off a digital version of a gauge cluster as well as additional information, just as the Audi TT does. The final new piece of hardware in the car is the camera that looks for familiar gestures it can translate into actions. The gestures is supposed to help distracted drivers stay focused on the road.

The Software

Aside from all of the new gadgets being crammed into the CES showcase Volkswagen also took the opportunity to show off their MIB II software. This media system is set to ship with Android Auto, Apple CarPlay and Mirrorlink connectivity applications. This will make it easier than ever before for developers to create quality applications for vehicles in the future and bring those top level apps to owners looking for something new.

golf r touch interior

Benefits

There are some beneficial features of this new setup that VW is showing off, particularly with the gesture controls. A very specific and highly developed set of gesture controls could make completing actions on the media system quicker and less distracting for the driver. Having a gesture setup could also allow screens to be placed in new, more visible locations without worrying about how the driver will reach them to adjust the controls. The new MIB II software will also bring a range of new features and functions to VW vehicles eventually leading to much higher quality applications for owners.

Drawbacks

The main drawback to the displayed setup is how distracting it is. With three different touch screens around the vehicle it’s harder to keep an eye on the road. It’s also difficult to adjust settings without paying attention to the screen, because it doesn’t have the same feel as solid buttons do that you could adjust while watching the road.

It’s unlikely that this touchscreen-heavy setup will make its way into a VW vehicle anytime soon, but it does show the way that Volkswagen believes the auto industry is heading, and I can’t help but wondering how automakers will deal with distracted driving issues later on down the road. On a positive note, the new MIB media setup should be arriving in new VW vehicles this year, and offering a much improved experience for owners everywhere.

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